The intriguing and atmospherically inclined Ever featured on Oneiric Escapism Vol. 2, her debut EP, Common Daze, possessing the kind of darkly brooding ambience that may lead reflective souls to begin ruminative, unnoticed wanderings during the sedate extremities of a sleepy town's daylight hours. A Lonely Ghost Burning caught up with Ever, who contentedly and amusingly discussed subjects ranging from knitting gone awry and the fallacy of daydreaming, to her lack of confidence, the difficulties of writing sad songs and the extent to which her alias is a reflection of her true self.
... I wish I could walk around in ridiculous outfits all day and seem really interesting.
Ever: I’ve always done music at school – I did the GCSE and then I did BTEC music – and I’ve just finished a degree in commercial music as well, so it’s been pretty full-on music for quite a few years now. For our final project for uni, it was more about getting out there, and that’s when I started to properly record things and try and make it work.
Ever: It’s changed a lot, because I used to do folk music. It was easier then – it’d just be like: pick up a guitar, put the guitar in a random tuning and then talk for ages about random stuff. Now I’m on electronic stuff, obviously, it’s more about finding new interesting sounds. When I do ambient music, it’s very easy to make it really samey, but now, I’ll find a new instrument to download, search through the presets for ages to try and find something that’s interesting and then try and build up a whole song around it.
Ever: I had a writer’s block with folk music. I’d been doing it for so long, and I was getting bored of the whole guitar thing because I didn’t know that many chords, so it was pretty repetitive. I then heard Grimes, and I found her music really interesting. At the time, all I had was GarageBand, so I still used a guitar when I did my first song, Bodies – that’s still got an acoustic influence in it, but it was more about trying to make weird sounds with the guitar and reverb. As I got into uni, I managed to use the facilities there and they had Pro Tools and loads of different instrument plugins. I was in a house with loads of musicians as well, so I was collaborating with them and experimenting.
Ever: It was only really writer’s block with folk music; Bodies, I came up with the words for in fifteen minutes. I find it a lot easier now, because it’s trying to say things more interestingly, whereas folk is pretty straightforward, I find. Now, it’s about trying to be more creative with words, so when you first look at the lyrics, it’s not necessarily going to make sense to anyone else, but it makes sense to me. So, it’s kinda fun. I guess it means different things to different people as they read it as well.
With folk music; I only started trying that again a couple of months ago, so it’s been about three years since I’ve actually tried to write music with a guitar. It’s just been sat in the corner collecting dust, really, but it was nice to try and go back to what I used to do; it was kinda refreshing.
Ever: Lyric-wise, it’s a lot easier. I did have a problem with writing lyrics for one song recently, but I knew a theme that I wanted – ‘nostalgia’ – so I went and typed in the word nostalgia and got loads of words – I filled a whole page with words that people associate with nostalgia. Another one I’ve done is ‘ruins’. It’s basically looking through Wikipedia and picking out words; it helps me build up the song around that particular subject if it’s not really a story from personal things.
Ever: I don’t think I’m actually that motivated a person, because I can go for quite long periods without actually writing anything. This new EP that I’m doing has just been done in the past two months. I stick to one song for months because I’m not motivated enough to do anything else and then, suddenly, it’ll just be like, “Oh, I really need to do this”, and I’ll write three songs in a month or two, just because I need to kick myself in the backside, really. Especially recently – I’ve left uni and I’ve got to find a job in the real world; it kinda drags you down a bit and then you have a burst of, like, ‘music is what I want to do, so I should probably actually do this.’
Ever: In the back of my mind, I do, because I’d rather be a musician than do anything else. Life kinda gets in the way, I guess. I find it hard as well when I’m really fine, like, I’m okay and I’m happy; that’s when I get writers block the most. You get really unmotivated for a while. I’ve spent ages looking for a job and then, suddenly, it’s like, “Ah, I feel crap, and I need to do music.” I guess feeling crap about everything kinda motivates me to do stuff because it reminds me that music is what I want to do; it brings it all to the surface, and it’s like, “I will do this, and I will succeed.”
Ever: It’s funny; one of my housemates is a musician and we were talking about this the other day – writing happy songs; it feels really cringey. I love pop music, and I listen to it all the time – jam to Taylor Swift constantly – but trying to write something like that; it just doesn’t feel right. It’s really weird. We were saying; people just search for drama in their life to try and make things interesting. I feel, with songwriting, it’s a lot easier to write about something bad if you’re in that state of mind. It sounds bad, because it’s just like, “Oh, you must be depressed all the time”, but it’s not like that at all. You can be happy, but you try and bring everything bad to the surface to write about it.
Ever: It’s quite easy, but it gets to the point where, if you have a really good year or something, you’re just recycling the same bad things that have happened to you for two years. That’s what I found myself doing a lot with the last EP, Common Daze; it was literally recycling one memory for the whole entire EP, so it got hard towards the end. I’ve got a new one coming out at the end of the month – I’m trying to do it on Halloween because it’s kinda spooky sounding – which is less-personal bad things happening… I really like Halloween, so the song I’m doing at the moment is trying to link a bad relationship to Halloween. So, it’s not necessarily me being in a bad place – it’s not really like I’m ever in a bad place – it’s just more that it sounds like it. [laughs]
Ever: Yeah, it’s a sad thing, and especially with the type of music I do; you can’t really do it happy. So, you do secretly think, oh, if something really bad happens to me now, at least I’ll have something new to write about. But then, you’re just like, “I really don’t want anything bad to happen, so please don’t.” [laughs] It’s a bad situation to be in – maybe I should switch to pop music. [laughs]
I have written stuff based on what I’ve read. The whole Bodies thing was off of a book, but then, it still sounded really depressing. It was one of those books which you finish and it’s like, “Oh, what is my life…?” [laughs] It just drains you completely. I’ve tried writing songs before where I’ve kept the same ambient style, but I’ve tried to put really positive things over the top of it, and it just sounds weird. It gets to the point again where it feel really cringey. It’s easier to find more interesting descriptive words for bad things than it is happy things. Writing about the Halloween thing was really fun and then ‘ruins’ and ‘nostalgia’ there are so many words you can link to; whereas, if you look up happy, it’s just like, “Oh, yeah; happy…” [laughs] It just feels really repetitive; I guess that’s what makes pop songs catchy.
Ever: I can be singing really depressing sounding words but actually feel really happy and fulfilled when I sing them; just because it’s an accomplishment when you’ve written something that you actually really like. After the whole process, when you listen to the lyrics and the songs – or just the mood of the songs – you feel like, after writing an EP like that, you’d probably be locked in your room for ages feeling really down, but it’s completely the opposite; you’ve written something you’re really proud of and you just feel great afterwards – it’s not really draining or anything.
Ever: I try to listen to less music, because I feel that sometimes I try and nick things from songs that I listen to. [laughs] It sounds weird, but I don’t actually listen to music that much. I’ll go through a period where I’ll find a new artist, listen to them on repeat for two weeks and then just go for a month without listening to anything, really, unless there’s a CD on in the car. I watch more TV than I listen to music. When we’re writing we’ll pick reference tracks; we’ll find something similar – at the minute, it’s Melanie Martinez, FKA twigs and Grimes – but other than for reference, I don’t really listen to much, because I’ll just feel like I’m copying everything.
Ever: I think it’s myself, and self-doubt. Trying to put things out there; I kind of hold music back. I never really play live, because I’m absolutely petrified. I’ve got a gig at the end of the month, and it’s just feels weird. Playing live scares me in case it goes wrong, but then, no one really knows the songs, so they probably won’t actually notice. I don’t have a lot of confidence in myself; I’ll write a song and be like, “This is really great”, and then, a week later, I’ll be like, “That’s okay.” It’ll come to playing it live, and it’s like, “No; this sucks.” It’s still the same song; it’s just that I’ve managed to completely scare myself into not playing it.
Ever: I’d say it’s improved. I didn’t start releasing music until December last year, and I’ve been writing songs for years – I’ve been recording them; I just never put them out. Now, I’ll actually share them, and I’m starting to play live and have bit more confidence. People can actually tell me what they think, whereas before I’d record it, keep it on my computer and listen to it myself; maybe share it with some friends. I’m building more confidence slowly.
Ever: I hope so. I really want to do one on Halloween, just because I love Halloween; I’m trying to plan that at the moment. Especially since it will be the release date of my new EP. I want to do more. I’ve just spent money on equipment, so it’s pushing myself to have to do it to make the equipment worthwhile. It’ll kind of depend on how this ones goes. I played at the Isle of Wight festival, but it was very small, really jumbly and not that great. This time it’s me trying to do it properly with drum pads and the launch pad; I’ve got a vocal effects pedal. It’s trial and error, really. If it doesn’t go well I’ll wait a while before I do more. The only rehearsal space I have is my house, so you don’t really know what it sounds like out loud, filling up a whole venue. So, it could sound great in my bedroom, but when I play it out loud it might be really thin or something.
Ever: Where I live – on the Isle of Wight – there’s not really many in my genre, so it’s hard to book gigs with them. Also, even though quite a lot of them are my friends who play live and stuff, I don’t like asking for things. My housemate mixes and masters all my stuff for me, just because I’m not confident enough to do it myself and he has all the equipment to do it. But, it took me ages to actually ask him to help. My other housemate does music that’s kind of similar to mine, but he doesn’t play live yet. Even asking anyone’s opinion; it’s hard to go to people and ask for it.
It’s just hard because of the industry, really. I’ve got a friend who’s signed, but she hasn’t done anything because it’s just such a hard industry to break into. I just give all my music away for free, which sucks, because I’d like to make a living off of music, but until you’re this big, ridiculously famous thing, you can’t really make enough money to just live. The industry does knock the confidence out of you. You think you’re good, and everyone tells you you’re good, but you’re not making a successful living from it.
Ever: I think I spend the most effort on the words; they matter more to me, but I don’t necessarily spend the most time on them. Obviously, making the whole backing thing, finding all the reverbs and the delay; you have to EQ it and then mix and master; that can take ages, whereas the lyrics can sometimes take fifteen minutes. To me, the lyrics are the most important part, especially because, with my music, the backing can sometimes be quite simple, so the words have to be the part that pulls people in. But, I do like finding really interesting sounds as well.
Ever: On my Common Daze EP, a lot of it was just built-in instruments from Logic. Music things are really expensive; one plugin can be, like, two hundred pounds. My housemate does music for films and video games, so I went on his computer one day and just mucked about with the different instruments he has, which was fun, because you realise that there is a hell of a lot more stuff to play around with. I still don’t understand half the EQ things and the compression and all that; that’s why I don’t do that myself. I’d like to learn it, but it’s a hell of a lot to take in. I want to focus more on the songwriting, and I think it’d be draining to try and do all of it. As much as I admire people who can actually do everything, the whole production thing doesn’t interest me as much. We used to have recording and studio lessons at uni, and as much as I found it interesting, it doesn’t appeal to me. It’s a very difficult thing, and also, you have to have the ear to do it. I know how I want things to sound, but then, someone will be like, “Yeah, but if you played that on this speaker system, it would sound really bad compared to this system”, and I really can’t tell the difference. So, I leave that to people who actually know how to do it.
Ever: I just think people take music however they take it. I’ll write a song, and I don’t specifically want to get a specific message to them, especially the way I write lyrics; someone can read it and it can mean a completely different thing to how I meant it. It’s not communicating anything specific; I just hope people like it. That’s why I try and experiment with different sounds, because if they don’t understand the lyrics then at least there’s that other thing to pull them in.
Ever: I suppose, darkness… Actually, it’s kinda funny, because I always found that when I wrote lyrics, I tended to include the words relevant to night-time, and then, one time, I was like, “I’ll try and write something about daytime, for once.” But, most of it has got a word referring to the night-time in it… which kinda bugged me, so I tried to do it less with this new stuff. But then, it’s somehow ended up relating to Halloween, which ends up being dark anyway. [laughs]
Ever: I don’t think so. I don’t think many people say much about me. A lot about me is kept away from all my Ever stuff, so it’s more like, “Who are you? What do you look like?”, and I’m like, “No; go away.” I also get a lot of people assuming I’m a band or more than one person, which I don’t understand. Sometimes, maybe it’s just because I’m a woman and I make music, but then, it’s like, I don’t want to go into that. But, no one really says much about me. I think people, with me, more just listen to my music, because I don’t really play live or post anything about me; it’s more just what’s relevant to the music and nothing really about me as a person.
Ever: Yeah; I mean, I think ninety percent of the people who follow me at the minute actually know me or my family, so they know who I am. So, it’s not gonna be a thing where no-one’s ever going to know who I am or what I look like. Any gig I do, I put face paint on and dress really weirdly… Obviously, people are going to realise what I look like and probably recognise who I actually am, but I’m not really interested in sharing my whole entire life. It’s more: here’s my music; I like doing music things. If I go out and do something, I’ll still post a picture of it; if I go out on a bike ride, I’ll be like, “Here’s my new bike; I really like it…” [laughs] Most of what I post is me knitting; I like embroidery and stuff for my merch. I’m trying to knit hats, but they’re all going horrifically wrong at the moment.
Ever: I follow knitting patterns, and I don’t understand where I’m going wrong; they come out, like, fitting a new born child’s head when they’re supposed to fit an adult. One of them came out, somehow, looking quite square. [laughs]
Ever: I don’t know. Do I daydream? … I don’t think I do… Do I? … I have no idea.
Ever: [laughs] If I do daydream, I forget about it really quickly. I guess, sometimes, I’ll daydream about doing something differently, but then that’s not daydreaming; that’s just thinking; imagining how you’d do a scenario differently… I dunno… I don’t daydream… I don’t think. [laughs] Sometimes you think something’s a daydream and then it turns out you’re just thinking through a scenario; it’s not really daydreaming.
Ever: … I have no idea… Everything… I dunno… I live a very boring life! [laughs]
Ever: I’m fascinated by how people can come up with words so easily. If I want to write a specific word, I’ll always go in a thesaurus and find a better way to say it, but I never end up remembering the more intelligent versions of the word. [laughs] I’m not that intelligent when it comes to thinking of words, and then, when people use all these really long words, I’m just like, “Wow; I don’t know what that means. How do you know all this?” … So, I just think, I want my words to sound fancy, so I’ll get a thesaurus. [laughs] I always use the word ‘like’. I’ve probably used it about ten thousand times in this interview… I hate using the word ‘like’.
Ever: I hate it! I hate the word. I try and cut it out so much, but when you stop thinking and just ramble… I ramble a lot… I literally ramble and make up loads of nonsense; I don’t even know what I say half the time. I’m not looking forward to reading this. [laughs] That’s why I like typing out interviews, because I read it twenty times and then I give it to someone else to read and find all the mistakes. I fumble over my words a lot, so it’s just nonsense half the time. [laughs]
I hate sending emails too. Just asking for simple things; it’s just, like – ah, I said the word – asking to play a gig or something. It’s just the most petrifying thing to press send. I don’t know why. You show it to someone and they just say, “What are you on about? It’s just a few words; it’s fine.” You think: Nooooooo! This is wrong somehow! They’re gonna laugh at me! [laughs]
Ever: Yeah; I always get that. I’m really sarcastic, but sarcasm is really hard to portray. So hard. It just sounds like you’re really angry all the time. [laughs]
Ever: I used to read a lot; I used to be obsessed with reading. I have so many books on my bookshelf that are piling up in the ‘unread’ section, because I keep finding new books that I want to read but never have time to read them. I used to take a lot from books and TV. I remember I watched this one really sad episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and I was like, “I have to write something about this.” I guess it’s just whatever puts you in a certain mood. Grey’s Anatomy is the most depressing TV programme ever; they kill off everyone you like in five minutes. Someone dies in every episode and you’re there crying. I remember, one time, they killed mine and my mum’s favourite character and we both just crying on the sofa, like, “I don’t know what to do with my life.” It’s just whatever puts you in a mood to write.
Ever: I used to be obsessed with Meg Cabot – she wrote The Princess Diaries stuff – but that was when I was, like, thirteen. I got back into reading again when it was the whole Hunger Games thing, and then, every book seemed to be about children killing children; just that weird dystopian thing. That was a very common theme in about ninety percent of the books I bought that year… Every other book seems to have some sort of vampire in it, even though I hate Twilight. I think I read the first chapter and gave up, and then I fell asleep in the film, so I literally gave up with the whole franchise. But, everything is either to do with vampires or children saving the world… Oh, John Green! John Green is my favourite author ever.
Ever: I guess, just confidence… Is that the right answer? [laughs]
Ever: Puppies… Actually, it was funny; we went into Pets at Home the other day – I find animals really cute, and I’ve already got a rabbit, but I want another one – and there were loads of cute rabbits; it got to the point where I almost started crying because they were so cute! [laughs] So, animals make me smile… It’s very sad. [laughs]
Oh, and The Aristocats makes me smile; that’s my favourite film – I love The Aristocats. I tried to learn one of the songs on piano, but I’m not that great at piano… Well, actually, I pick it up quite quickly, but I can’t really read music that well, so I have to memorise the whole entire song, which is a hell of a lot of notes to memorise.
Ever: [laughs] Yeah; I’ve tried before, because obviously with the degree you had to learn how to read music, to a point. I can read the music, I just can’t follow it. So, people play a song and there’ll look up at the sheet music and be like, “Oh, yeah; I’m there”, whereas I can read the music to learn how to play it, but once I start playing it, I can’t then look up at the music and know where I am… unless there are words on the thing; that makes it easier.
Ever: I don’t know if I want it to define me as a person… If my music were to define me at the moment then it’d probably seem like I sit in my room all day and be really sad. I want my music and me to be separate. Obviously, the whole Ever thing; that’s supposed to be dark, and mysterious, almost; kind of quirky. That’s what I want that to be seen as, but it’s not necessarily defining me as a person.
Ever: It’s reflective of part of my personality. It’s kind of the person, I guess, that you want to be; like, I wish I could walk around in ridiculous outfits all day and seem really interesting. Obviously, when you’re running social media, you can leave out all the really boring stuff, whereas actual life is a lot of boring days just going to work then coming home and watching TV for a few hours. If you look on social media, I go out on bike rides all the time, and I knit all the time, and I embroider all the time.
Ever: It’s the excuse to make me do things. I always like the whole ‘being secretly eighty years old on the inside and knitting and embroidering all the time and drinking tea’, but I never had an excuse to do it. Now, I do. I am Ever, even though everything I’ve said probably makes it sound like I’m putting all this stuff on, but it’s what I’ve wanted to do. Do you know the artist Kimbra? She’s rad, and her extravagant stage outfits are what I want. Crazy, sequinned things and big dresses is what I’d like to normally walk around wearing, but I’m too scared to do it, so I throw it all on Ever and then have an excuse to do it and pretend it’s not what I want to do. [laughs] Or pretend it’s like a job, when really, it’s just actually me being myself.
I guess, as I’ve had more faith in the whole music thing, I’ve changed personality-wise, but it’s also growing up, because it’s been three years; I was eighteen when I started, and now I’m twenty one, which doesn’t sound that old, but a lot changes in three years. At the beginning, when I didn’t perform live and didn’t do merch or anything, I was like me; really quiet and out the way; I’d just do the music and that was it. I throw all the extravagant outfits and the knitting and embroidery onto Ever because I say I have to do it, because it’s what I want Ever to come across as, but really, it’s what I want to do; I’m just using Ever as an excuse in case someone doesn’t like that I’m doing it.
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